Editor’s note: A few folks have expressed concerns about the word choice in a sentence in the 9th paragraph of this story, specifically “With urban populations in the city thinning out, neighborhoods like the Bayview and Fillmore need to be recognized and cultivated, (Supervisor Ross Mirkirimi) said.”
“Apparently SFAppeal/Mirkarimi think (‘urban’ is) a synonym for ‘black,’ one concerned reader said, which is a great point! So, I called Bay City News, and spoke with Rachel Purdy, the reporter who wrote this story. Purdy confirmed that “urban” was the word that Mirkirimi used in that context, not a word she chose on her own. Thanks to all of you who raised the issue! — ELB
San Francisco community members and city officials gathered in City Hall Thursday to kickoff Juneteenth, the annual celebration that honors the release of slaves in Texas in 1865.
Although the Emancipation Proclamation was made official in January 1863, blacks were enslaved in the Southwest for more than two years until Union soldiers enforced the order on June 19, 1865.
San Francisco’s 61st annual Juneteenth festival will take place on June 18 and June 19 on Fillmore Street to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States, said Lateefah Simon, the executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area.
About 10,000 people are expected to attend the festival, which will feature music and entertainment on two stages, health and job fairs, and classes in Zumba, skateboarding and roller-skating.
Supervisors Malia Cohen and Ross Mirkarimi, who represent Districts 10 and 5 respectively, stressed the importance of the celebration to the city.
“It’s very important that we not forget…where we come from so we do not stumble and forget and remain vigilant in where we’re going,” said Cohen, the only black member of the Board of Supervisors.
Juneteenth changed the direction of America and San Franciscans should never lose sight of this day, Mirkarimi said.
Mirkarimi also said the location of the celebration in the Fillmore neighborhood, or “the Harlem of the West,” was important.
With urban populations in the city thinning out, neighborhoods like the Bayview and Fillmore need to be recognized and cultivated, he said.
Juneteenth enriches the African-American community to be stronger and more vibrant and entrepreneurial, former supervisor Bevan Dufty said.
In addition to celebrating the end of slavery, the event also honors Mary Helen Rogers, a civil rights activist who fought for equality in San Francisco.
Rogers spent her life fighting “exclusion, injustice, ignorance and meanness,” said the Rev. Amos Brown, a pastor at the Third Baptist Church in San Francisco and former supervisor.
“Celebrations only last for a moment, but the struggles of liberation go on from one generation to the next,” Brown said.
Rachel Purdy, Bay City News